IOWA — Chris Norton was left paralyzed after a sports injury five years ago. But the 23-year-old college graduate was determined to do the impossible: walk across the stage.
“My graduation walk was what I considered my game day or Olympic event,” the Luther College graduate told NBC News Tuesday. “My full focus was to take the best steps I could possibly take and not worry about the audience or anything else.”
Norton fractured his spine in 2010 during a football game. Doctors told him there was only a 3 percent chance he would ever walk again. So he took the challenge.
Through more than four years of physical therapy and help from his fiancé, Emily Summers, Norton finished school a semester early so he could work out for up to six hours a day in preparation for the big debut.
Norton walked across the stage with Summers by his side to receive his diploma; he proposed to her only the day before.
“So many people, including myself, fear failure, it’s human. But if you do everything in your power to accomplish your dreams, at the end of the day, you can be proud and happy with how far you’ve come,” Norton said, adding, “Good things will come your way.”